Another week, another VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings. This time, there is just one more set before the postseason begins. The area near the top 10 to the middle of the poll saw the most disruption, as once again Baylor was a huge benefactor of other team’s struggles. They’ve firmly planted themselves as second in the Big 12 and with Katie Staiger injured they developed even more around her. Now they are a juggernaut with seven straight victories.
Beyond that, there was some subtle movement throughout the poll, with Oregon dropping farther than anyone. There wasn’t any change near the top though as the top five remains untouched once again starting with Penn State:
1. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
- 27-1 (17-1, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #1; Def. Indiana (3-0), at Rutgers (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at #18 Wisconsin, at #7 Minnesota
- Just one week remains for Penn State, who by winning out can earn a share of the Big Ten – although technically the automatic bid would go to Nebraska if they win out due to head-to-head. It won’t be an easy finish for the Nittany Lions, who can likely wrap up the top overall seed for the NCAA Tournament with a pair of ranked road tests.
2. FLORIDA GATORS
- 23-1 (15-1, SEC)
- Last Week: #2; Def. at Texas A&M (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Auburn, at Missouri
- The Gators had a one-match week and again downed their opponent to reach a nine-match winning streak. Winning out gives them another SEC title (although it could be a split), with a road test in Missouri as the final and toughest test for the week.
3. STANFORD CARDINAL
- 24-3 (17-1, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #3; Def. #11 USC (3-0), #20 UCLA (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #16 Utah, at California
- The Cardinal saw their opportunity to clinch the Pac-12 outright and exploded against USC in accomplishing their goal. That was followed by a quick turnaround against UCLA, but they came out in five sets as two more wins this week should likely clinch a top four seed for the NCAA Tournament.
4. TEXAS LONGHORNS
- 22-2 (14-0, Big 12)
- Last Week: #4; Def. #13 Kansas (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Oklahoma, at #9 Baylor
- The Longhorns earned at least a share of the Big 12 with a sweep over last year’s conference champion Kansas as they continue to soar through conference play. The second best team in the Big 12 this year, Baylor, will take on Texas in the finale with plenty to prove as Texas likely needs to win out to have a shot at a top four seed.
5. NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
- 24-4 (17-1, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #5; Def. at Ohio State (3-1), at Maryland (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at Northwestern, vs. Iowa
- The Cornhuskers are just two match wins away from a second straight Big Ten title after they made a statement early in the conference season with a win at Penn State and have continued their success. Although we have them ranked fifth, it’d be hard to deny a red hot team who won the Big Ten a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament – which they’d likely be with two wins.
6. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
- 24-3 (15-1, SEC)
- Last Week: #7; Def. Georgia (3-0), Ole Miss (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at Arkansas, at Georgia
- Kentucky still has a shot at an SEC title just like Florida, as a pair of sweeps this week push the Wildcats closer to a conference championship. Winning both tough road matches would be enough to earn at least a split – with hope that Florida would lose to take it outright.
7. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
- 25-4 (14-4, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #6; Def. at Northwestern (3-1); Lost at (RV) Illinois (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Rutgers, vs. #1 Penn State
- The Golden Gophers suffered their second loss in two weeks as they came up short in Illinois – a team that appears to be a bad matchup for them. It now looks bleak for them to still be in the NCAA Tournament committee’s top four (where they were in the preview release), but they would love to get a big momentum boost toward the postseason with a win vs. Penn State.
8. WASHINGTON HUSKIES
- 22-7 (12-6, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #8; Lost at (RV) Oregon State (2-3); Def. at #16 Oregon (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at (RV) Oregon State, at #22 Oregon
- Washington’s week started out negatively with their second five-set loss of the year to Oregon State. It picked up with a dominant win at Oregon though, as the Huskies swept the Ducks on the road. That was enough to stick around at #8 with an overall strong resume as the loss did keep them from moving up ahead of Minnesota.
9. BAYLOR BEARS
- 23-5 (13-2, Big 12)
- Last Week: #14; Def. Kansas State (3-1), at West Virginia (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #4 Texas
- Baylor continues to ascend the rankings as they have won seven straight matches, including winning all but two sets in that run. They’ve got big time wins at Kansas and vs. BYU among others as well. With the four immediate teams ahead of them losing, they jump up again and with things becoming more of a level playing field with BYU, they move ahead of the Cougars.
10. BYU COUGARS
- 27-2 (16-1, WCC)
- Last Week: #9; Def. San Francisco (3-0), Santa Clara (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Loyola Marymount
- The Cougars are now just one win away from taking home another West Coast Conference title – as it could either come in a split or by themselves depending on San Diego’s result. Beyond that, their RPI suggests they are on the first/second round hosting bubble, but when combining eye test and such, the Cougars should be good play in Provo in the NCAA opening weekend.
11. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
- 20-7 (13-5, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #10; Lost at Michigan (0-3), vs. Indiana (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at #17 Purdue, at Indiana
- The Spartans couldn’t get the season sweep of Michigan, as their rivals had a big week. They did bounce back in the second match of the week with a sweep of Indiana though as they don’t drop too far based on overall resume and plenty of others in this area losing as well.
12. USC TROJANS
- 21-8 (13-5, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #11; Lost at #2 Stanford (0-3); Def. California (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at #22 Oregon, vs. #19 UCLA
- The Trojans couldn’t upend Stanford on the road, but bounced back with a sweep of Cal. They are looking good to hosting in the first/second round, but a win with two tough ones this week could secure it as a pair might vault them into the top eight discussion.
13. CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS
- 23-6 (16-2, Big East)
- Last Week: #12; Lost at Villanova (0-3); Def. at Georgetown (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: Big East Tournament (vs. Villanova – Semis)
- Creighton was upended for the second time in Big East play – with both coming in a sweeping loss. They needed a tough five set win over Georgetown too, as now they look to get revenge on Villanova in their first Big East tournament match.
14. SAN DIEGO TOREROS
- 23-4 (16-1, WCC)
- Last Week: #15; Def. Santa Clara (3-0), San Francisco (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Pepperdine
- San Diego swept through a couple more conference foes as they just like BYU are one win away from a WCC championship. They are also on the first/second round hosting bubble, so it should be interesting how the committee weighs their easier conference path with the eye test and a strong non-conference slate.
15. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
- 22-6 (11-4, Big 12)
- Last Week: #13; Lost at #4 Texas (0-3); Def. at Texas Tech (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: vs. West Virginia
- It’s been a tough stretch for Kansas on the back half of this season as three of their last six matches have been losses. They do have good news though as Madison Rigdon returned in the second set of the Texas match. They need to beat West Virginia to give their best shot at hosting in the first/second round of the NCAA Tournament.
16. UTAH UTES
- 21-8 (12-6, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #17; Def. Arizona State (3-0), Arizona (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: at #3 Stanford, at #21 Colorado
- The Utes had a strong week by downing the two Arizona schools as now they ramp up the schedule to finish things off. If they can earn a split, they would be feeling good for hosting in the first/second round of the NCAA Tournament, while two losses leaves things up in the air.
17. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
- 21-8 (11-7, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #18; Def. at Rutgers (3-0); Lost at Michigan (1-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. (RV) Michigan, vs. #11 Michigan State
- Following their huge week of wins over Minnesota and Wisconsin, Purdue earned a road sweep at Rutgers but fell short at Michigan. Now they get a chance for revenge at home, as a pair of wins this week may be enough to sneak into the first/second round hosting conversation.
18. WISCONSIN BADGERS
- 19-8 (10-8, Big Ten)
- Last Week: #19; Def. at (RV) Illinois (3-1), at Northwestern (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #1 Penn State, vs. Rutgers
- After falling lower this week than they have all season in the VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings, Wisconsin bounced back as they won at (RV) Illinois and swept Northwestern on the road. They can really redeem themselves this week if they can upend #1 Penn State – which would likely be enough to secure first/second round hosting.
19. UCLA BRUINS
- 17-10 (10-8, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #20; Lost at #2 Stanford (2-3); Def. California (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at (RV) Oregon State, at #12 USC
- The Trojans did lose their first match of the week, but it came in five sets on the road against Stanford. They followed it up with a sweep of Cal as a couple of tough road tests this week are likely must-wins if they want to host in the first/second round of the NCAA Tournament.
20. IOWA STATE CYCLONES
- 20-6 (10-5, Big 12)
- Last Week: #21; Def. at Oklahoma (3-0), at TCU (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: vs. Texas Tech
- The previous week ended with a loss to Texas, but the Cyclones did more than bounce back this week with sweeps of both Oklahoma and TCU. Now they have a one-match week as they close things off at home against Texas Tech as they still have a chance at hosting with a strong RPI.
21. COLORADO BUFFALOES
- 21-8 (11-7, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #22; Def. Arizona (3-0), Arizona State (3-2)
- Upcoming Week: at California, vs. #16 Utah
- Colorado continues their ascension near the top of the Pac-12 as they downed both Arizona schools – with the Sun Devils proving to be a bit trickier. If they can avoid the upset to Cal, the match vs. Utah could have huge weights for both teams on any potential hosting ability for the NCAA Tournament.
22. OREGON DUCKS
- 16-10 (9-9, Pac-12)
- Last Week: #16; Lost vs. Washington State (1-3), vs. #8 Washington (0-3)
- Upcoming Week: vs. #12 USC, at (RV) Oregon State
- With the two Washington schools coming to town, Oregon’s struggles continued as they have now lost five of seven and three consecutive matches. They’ve gone from being ranked in the NCAA Tournament committee’s preview top 10 to being a team that might not even get to host in the first two rounds, but they still have opportunities in front of them this week over a couple of strong opponents.
23. CAL POLY MUSTANGS
- 26-2 (16-0, Big West)
- Last Week: #23; Def. at UC Riverside (3-1), at CS Fullerton (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: None
- The Mustangs regular season came to a close this week as they finished off the perfect Big West season. They now await the NCAA Tournament committee and where they are placed as they could be a dangerous upset for whoever they play after rolling through most of the year with their only losses at Oregon and at Washington.
24. WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS
- 26-3 (18-0, AAC)
- Last Week: #24; Def. at Tulsa (3-0), at SMU (3-0)
- Upcoming Week: at Memphis, vs. Memphis
- The Shockers took down Tulsa to begin the week and wrapped things up with another sweep over SMU. It seemed to be a passing of the torch, as not only did the victory clinch the AAC title outright for the Shockers, but it did so against last year’s conference champ. They’ll look to wrap up the unbeaten conference slate this week against Memphis twice.
25. MISSOURI STATE BEARS
- 26-5 (18-0, MVC)
- Last Week: #25; Def. at Valparaiso (3-0), at Loyola (3-1)
- Upcoming Week: MVC Tournament
- Missouri State wrapped up their regular season with another pair of road wins as they completed the perfect Missouri Valley Conference record of 18-0. They will look to go unbeaten in the conference tournament as well, as they await Drake or Indiana State in their first game and look to garner the automatic bid.
On the Cusp/’Receiving Votes’:
Northern Iowa (25-7)
Oregon State (21-9)
Colorado State (27-3)
Western Kentucky (30-3)
Others who Dropped Out:
Note: * signifies dropped out (previous ranking)